6 Ways to Help Your Child’s Mental Health Without Screen Time
Mental health issues can negatively affect how your child feels, acts and thinks. That’s why mental well-being is just as important as physical well-being. And as a parent, you play the most crucial role in your child’s mental health. Many parents understand the importance of keeping their children physically active and having healthy eating habits.
However, the rates of mental health problems in kids are rising. According to WebMD, at least 20% of children are diagnosed with a mental illness each year. Some parents automatically turn to devices to calm their children down and distract them.
Screen time isn’t the best solution as it can worsen mental health — such as poor emotion regulation and difficulty finishing tasks. It also can additional complications for children with specific traits that require special attention, such as SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder).
Here are the best ways to nurture your child’s mental health without depending on screen time.
1. Provide a Healthy Environment
The simplest and best way to support your child’s mental health is by giving them a safe and loving home environment. A positive home creates a happy child.
Ensure you’re aware of your child’s media usage. One way to create a safe home is by being aware of who they interact with online. That is where you must try to monitor their activities and reduce screen time by keeping them busy with other activities.
For instance, you could play board games or introduce them to philanthropy. Giving is an excellent way to boost your child’s mental health when they learn they’re improving the quality of life for others.
You could also be a role model by taking care of your mental health, such as by talking about your feelings. Or by getting into activities such as meditation, physical exercise and yoga.
2. Give Your Child Unconditional Love
Show unconditional love for your child on a regular basis. You can accompany your child and let them know that you love them no matter what type of issues they may be facing.
This is the ultimate way of supporting your child’s mental health because it shows them that we all make mistakes. And they must understand that they can learn from their mistakes. So instead of communicating failure — even if you feel disappointed in their choice — they need to know that you bear lots of love for them.
3. Be Open to Communication
When your child is dealing with a difficult situation, you must be on board with talking about their emotions. Open communication allows your child to explore their feelings freely. As communication is more consistent, you’ll be more likely to notice issues and have discussions with them.
Consider starting a conversation by asking open-ended questions. Get them to share about their school day or a special event. Having your child share these things provides you with more opportunities to find them a solution.
4. Give Your Child a Routine and Set Boundaries
Uncertainty in daily schedules can lead to more stress and anxiety in your child’s life. Therefore, it’s crucial to establish a routine to provide them with more peace of mind. This could mean unplugging from computers and phone, as well as scheduling their meals or having a weekly family night together.
Additionally, setting clear boundaries is also an excellent way to minimize feelings of frustration. Once your child knows what you expect of them, the both of you can live in a stress-free environment and make life easier for yourselves.
5. Offer Your Child a Mental Health Day
Just like a sick day, you can give your child a “Mental Health Day” once a year. With mental health being as crucial as physical health, a “Mental Health Day” can be a way for your child to get a break. Encourage them to stay off social media channels and spend time doing other things offline.
Every once in a while, it’s important for your child to recuperate and let them spend the day they would want. Breaks are more than okay to give your child what they need — as it is like an investment in helping them feel better.
So when your child feels like they need a break from their routine, you can tell them it’s okay to stay home. And you don’t have to feel guilty for it since your child’s mental health is a priority — even if it’s not the traditional view of how society perceives health.
6. Praise Their Character
Praising and encouraging are viable ways to build your child’s self-esteem and confidence. More importantly, it supports their mental well-being. With low confidence comes academic stress, anxiety and even depression.
These can all affect your child’s quality of life, so praising them for who they are is just as important.
Children respond better to positive reinforcement. It’s the best way to reinforce what parents want to see in their child — such as showing kindness and empathy towards others.
Once your child knows what they’re doing right, they’ll ultimately feel better about themselves in several ways.
Build a Solid Foundation For Your Child’s Mental Health
When it comes to mental health, the best solution for your child is to be a part of their life consistently. Talking with them and spending time together can benefit their mental health significantly. Ensure you give them guidance, offer support and be loving.
Taking action and being a good role model can reduce your child’s risk of negative impacts on their well-being. However, if the way they’re acting is worrisome, consider talking to your child’s health care provider. They can help you find solutions that are the best possible fit.
About the Author
Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you’ll find her in a yoga class, advocating for her children or whipping up something delicious in the kitchen!